How Does a Respirator Mask Work?


Quick Answer

A respirator mask works by filtering out harmful airborne particles so that these are not inhaled into the respiratory tract. In order for it to properly work, it needs to have the correct filter and must fit closely to the face, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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How Does a Respirator Mask Work?
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Full Answer

A common respirator mask is the N95 respirator, which blocks at least 95 percent of particles at least 0.3 microns in size. However, it does not provide full protection if a close facial fit could not be achieved such as when worn by children or adults with facial hair. Most N95 respirators are used in industries where workers are exposed to dust such as in construction and certain manufacturing jobs, states the FDA. The N95 respirator may also protect vulnerable persons from communicable airborne diseases such as influenza, though its use is not mandated in the home or community.

There are several types of respirators for various applications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For example, escape respirators are used only when escaping from a dangerous area. They are used only once and in emergency situations. Particle respirators, such as the N95, protect only against particles but not gases. Air-purifying respirators or gas masks protect against certain noxious biological or chemical substances. Having the right respirator mask ensures the best protection.

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